Laura Kirwan-Ashman's documentary goes behind the scenes of London club night Pxssy Palace – a night for London's QTIPOC (queer, trans, intersex people of colour).
Why did you tell the story of Pxssy Palace from the perspective of the founders and people behind-the-scenes of the club night, rather than the clubbers?
I wanted to show the complex work and careful thought that goes into running a club night, and providing a space for vulnerable people in our society.
I started off as a club-goer. When I became friends with many of the Pxssy Palace members, I saw how hard they work and what a beautiful and important service they provide for their community.
Pxssy Palace is more than a club night. I wanted my film to encourage queer people to seek out collectives doing similar things, either in real life or online. Or even inspire them to start their own.
One of the Pxssy Palace founders says ‘There’s no reason why the dance floor can’t be educational’. Do you agree?
I definitely agree.
The dancefloor at Pxssy Palace is a place of joy, love, self-expression, and support. It's a place to feel that sense of belonging and welcoming acceptance that doesn't always exist in the world.
It's also a place to commune and learn from each other so we can better support each other and our community. It's how I've met most of the people in my life right now.
Was it technically complicated to film Pxssy Palace?
We didn't film the actual dancefloor because we didn't want to interfere with the running of the night. Filming in the main club space would not have been possible, because not everyone wants to be filmed. Not everyone is out to their families and communities.
So we set up a little studio in the corner of the venue. People who wanted to be filmed could volunteer and sign release forms.
Why did you include the themes of allyship and privilege?
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Our society talks about allyship and privilege more than we have in the past. But many people, however well-intentioned, give up at the first misstep or mistake, out of fear of doing or saying the wrong thing.
The important thing is to own these mistakes and move past them. Take responsibility for educating yourself, don't get defensive, and listen more than you talk.
These are simple things, but many people seem unwilling to do them. Marginalised communities are often accused of being demanding or overly sensitive as a result.
Real change is not going to happen unless allies step forward and do their part.
British Queer, Trans and Intersex People of Colour (QTIPOC) club culture is quite a niche scene. Did you a weight of responsibility representing this scene in film?
I did, especially because I was making a film about a community that had been so important to me.
There is always going to be the weight of responsibility when making work about underrepresented communities. Artists can approach that work with intention and love.
People from marginalised communities shouldn't be expected to represent their entire community. That is especially true because we have fewer opportunities to tell our stories.
#FiveFilmsForFreedom, the world’s widest-reaching digital celebration of LGBTIQ+ themed film returns from 18 to 29 March 2020.